The Scientific Activist

Only in Oxford…

The following email was recently sent out to members of Magdalen College at the University of Oxford:

Sometime between last Wednesday, 5th, and yesterday Sunday 9th, about
two and a half tons of lead roofing was stripped from the top of the
building on the outside of the deer park (at the southern, Holywell St
junction end, near the small tower in our wall) on Longwall St. This is
the Conservation Studio library, owned by Merton.

If you saw anything, such as a lorry loading up, please let me know and
I will pass on the information to Merton who are in contact with the Police.

A few thoughts come to mind.

Firstly, the fact that someone was able to steal two and a half tons of anything is impressive enough.

Secondly, the fact that someone was able to do this without arousing any suspicion is almost unbelievable.

But, thirdly, the fact that this two-and-a-half-ton roof was gone for five days before anyone happened to notice? That, my friend, is the sort of thing could only happen in Oxford.


Hat tip to Florence Yoon.

Comments

  1. #1 Hank Roberts
    September 10, 2007

    Depends, probably there’s still a waterproof layer keeping the daylight from showing. Roofers work very, very fast (even the legitimate ones).

    I think a more notable point is that this is typical of metal theft going on worldwide.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/31/us/31copper.html?ex=1343534400&en=cd5f41c68cd66586&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

    No, people don’t assume that a large work crew with a big vehicle and a lot of equipment are thieves, they assume they’re doing planned work.

    This has to change. Or China won’t need to quit buying US debt to bring the US to its knees; the US could just collapse as its infrastructure is gutted and hauled away for scrap.

    Likely Britan is having the same problems.

  2. #2 pj
    September 10, 2007

    Sadly it is now a common occurance, destroying irreplacable artefacts from sculptures to church bells.

  3. #3 blf
    September 10, 2007

    There’s been several cases in the UK of large metal sculptures being stolen, presumably to be sold for scrap. Sometimes, as I recall, these haven’t been noticed for days as well.

    Whilst the motivation seems different, there was a case in Dublin Ireland a few years ago (2001?) of someone removing several metres of the stone block walls alongside the River Liffey. As far as I can recall, that was noticed the next morning!

  4. #4 csrster
    September 11, 2007

    I thought that stealing lead from roofs went out of fashion around the same time as black-and-white hooped sweatshirts and sacks marked “SWAG”. Of course Oxford is rather well known for hanging on to ancient traditions.

  5. #5 Herman Claus
    September 11, 2007

    That’s nothing : six years ago in my neighborhood thieves got away with stealing five 60-year old oak trees from someone’s garden in a suburb!

  6. #6 Oliver
    September 13, 2007

    The other day, the Berlin-Hamburg rail connection was shut down temporarily. Thieves had stolen several key wires from a critical control center. Sculptures have gone missing in Germany, too, and metal roofs stolen in part as well. Even old railway tracks have been hauled off overnight, and we can be glad that so far, they haven’t started to steal the installed tracks. However, what they have done is stealing part of the overhead wiring -makes you wonder what their idea of sanity is, working on a live railway powerline.

  7. #7 Monado
    September 14, 2007

    Perhaps I shouldn’t mention this, but it’s amazing how a hard hat allays suspicion.

  8. #8 Lars
    September 21, 2007

    This is a sufficiently ancient occupation that its perpetrators have a folk-name: Bluey-men. Although this term was originally restricted to those who stole the lead roofing from churches.

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